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Have you ever been fascinated by the yeti? Or perhaps, like me, you fell in love with the movie Lost Horizon and the story of Shangri La.

Shangri-la from James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon evokes Tibetan legend, perhaps Nghe-Beyul Khembalung or Shambala.

But did you know that the word yeti has another Sanskrit root?

The word yeti is misused for “snowman.” It is a Sanskrit word which means a renunciate, an austere person, and is the name of a group of renunciate sadhus who belong to one of the orders of Shankaracharya.
– Swami Rama

From childhood. Swami Rama lived and studied in the Himalayas for decades explains that the Sherpa’s who know the mountains well take the willing and paying westerners to find their Lost Horizon,  “but they have no knowledge of the spiritual tradition of any part of the Himalayas.”

From Darjeeling and Sikkim expeditions have chased the yeti with no result.

The Swami never aw a yeti either, but heard many elders tell of the snowman to eager grandchildren.

“ Shangrila does not exist in reality. The myth of Shangrila is based on the existence of two ancient cave monasteries hidden in the Himalayas. These caves are described in our traditional scriptures and have a long heritage of meditation and spiritual practices. One is situated on the Mount of Kinchinjunga at the height of 14,000 feet and the other, where I lived, is in the deep Himalayas on the borders of Tibet and Garhwal. This cave monastery accommodates many practitioners comfortably. It is situated at a height between 11,500 and 12,000 feet above sea level. Very few people have been to this place. This monastery still exists, and there are many Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Sandhya Bhasha manuscripts preserved there.”

So what is the yeti?

Maya and perhaps the rare white bears: Swami Rama had a pet bear and saw how the footprint could look ‘human.’

“The story of the snowmen is as ancient as the human mind’s ability to fantasize. In the deep snows, one’s vision becomes blurred and white bears, which are rarely seen in the mountains, are mistaken for snowmen from the distance. These bears live high in the mountains and steal the food of expeditioners.

They leave long footprints which are similar to those of human beings.”

US TV host Josh Gates displays 'Yeti' footprints in Kathmandu November 30, 2007.

US TV host Josh Gates displays ‘Yeti’ footprints in Kathmandu November 30, 2007.

The human mind remains under the influence of delusion until ignorance is completely dispelled. If there is no clarity of mind, the data that is gathered together from the external world is not perceived in a coordinated manner, and the clouded mind conceives a false vision. This is one of the modifications of the mind, like fancy, fantasy, symbol, and ideas. Maya is cosmic illusion, and avidya is individual ignorance which comes from a lack of knowledge about objects and their nature; it is also an illusion.

The story of Bigfoot is based on the belief of a fantasy and discoordinated perception. When a bear runs fast in the snow, climbs upwards or runs downwards, the size of the foot of the bear looks very large.

When I had a pet bear, I myself was surprised to see the big footprint it created. It is usually large and similar to a human foot.
– Swami Rama

Intriguingly, American television channel host Josh Gates displayed what is believed to be ‘Yeti’ footprints to the media in Kathmandu November 30, 2007. The U.S.-based television channel investigating the existence of the legendary Yeti in Nepal has found footprints similar to those said to be that of the abominable snowman. The team of nine producers from Destination Truth, armed with infrared cameras, spent a week in the icy Khumbu region where Mount Everest is located and found the footprints on the bank of Manju river at a height of 2,850 meters (9,350 feet).

Other British scientists tested the DNA of hairs from two unidentified animals claimed to be yeti. One shot 40 years o, from Ladakh, west of the Himalayas in north India and from a bamboo forest in Bhutan. The tests revealed that the unidentified animal, was in fact a subspecies of the brown bear.

OK – not Swami Rama’s pet white bear, but close.

Maybe I’m biased, but I prefer Swami Rama’s answer”

Alas! the world, under the influence of illusion, is still searching for the shadows and the large foot. I call it “Himalayan maya.”  I was born and lived in these mountains and I have nothing to say to those who are delighted to believe in these myths and who are still searching for something which never existed. God help those misguided souls. These are not the footprints of snowmen or yetis, but of delusion.
– Swami Rama